Edmund de Waal (2)

While I was on holiday I read the proof of Edmund de Waal’s latest book, The White Road: a pilgrimage of sorts.   It’s a nearly impossible act to follow Hare with the Amber Eyes and the book is more ruminative and episodic, as suggested by the tentativeness of the title’s ‘a pilgrimage of sorts‘.   But it has many of the same characteristics:  an imaginative intensity of investigation into aspects of his private history, on this occasion the making and meaning of porcelain;  his rich and often poetic use of language;  an understanding of the relationship of the present to the past.   He is particularly good on the discovery of porcelain in the court of Augustus the Strong, recreating the world of baroque alchemy, and on the Quaker milieu of William Cookworthy.   There’s an alternative concealed narrative about the development of his own work, including a cryptic reference to Grievance.   Maybe this will be the subject of his next book.

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